The Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department, located in Manchester Township, New Jersey, is just like about any other volunteer fire department in the state.
It was in the market for a new pumper and started planning for the purchase approximately five years ago, according to Chief Mike Trimachi. “We had a 1989 Sutphen that we wanted to replace,” Trimachi says. “Our department tries to base our apparatus replacement needs on a 20- to 25-year replacement program. Sometimes it’s not easy based on funding.”
This time around, the department applied for and was awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant. This grant essentially paid for the entire vehicle. Because of this, the department could pick whatever manufacturer it wanted.
The response area has three independent fire companies and two EMS stations in the 90-square-mile district. The population is around 47,000, and there are approximately 40 members in the fire company. The department operates with a tanker, a brush truck, a heavy rescue, and a 77-foot quint. It handles around 475 alarms per year and, just like most communities, the response area includes senior apartments, condos, six schools, and strip shopping centers.
“We needed to upgrade to an engine with more compartment space, a larger pump and tank, as well as a generator so we could handle just about anything in our response area,” Trimachi says. “I took it on myself to work on the specs for the new pumper. We basically looked at deliveries in our area and gained some insight into what was out there as far as pumper design was concerned. A member of one of our neighboring fire companies sold Sutphen. One night, he came over with a demo and we were sold.”
The department was able to incorporate some of the ideas personnel had looking at different manufacturers. Sutphen was receptive to all the ideas and worked along with the local dealer, Blaze Emergency Equipment, to accomplish the department’s mission in designing a functional piece of fire apparatus for our district.
“We wanted a 2,000-gpm pump, a 1,000-gallon tank, a low hosebed, and larger compartments to hold all of our equipment,” Trimachi says. “Also on our minds was the ability to have seven attack lines operated off the pumper and a stainless-steel body and cab. All these wishes were accomplished thanks to Sutphen’s engineering department and the dealer.”
What was also great for the department was that the pumper was constructed at Sutphen East, which is only a two-hour drive. This made it easier to visit the factory, see the construction progress, and make any changes if needed. Personnel also received weekly photos and calls to discuss any problems and changes, which were minimal.
“One big change for us was a fully digital pump panel, which consisted of electronic flow meters and valves,” Trimachi says. “This was a concept that our members had to get used to. It looks more complicated and intimidating than it really is. Sutphen came in and did all the training for our members, and it took about a week to get used to it. Also, the side mount/top mount was another concept that was new to us. I think it gives a better view of the fireground for our pump operators and keeps them off the street.”
Insight and Planning
The Ridgeway Fire Company now has at its disposal a functional pumper to use for the foreseeable future because of great insight and proper planning. It upgraded the pumper to incorporate some new concepts for the fire company, including flow meters and electronic valves that have not been used in the past. While it was somewhat of a learning curve for members, with proper training from Sutphen, they conquered the learning curve and can operate the vehicle with proficiency.
Ridgeway Fire Company Pumper Specs
As I have always said in the past, proper planning far enough in advance can always solve most problems before they start. Look at your fire district or company’s needs down the road when planning for a new apparatus purchase. Will you need larger compartments to carry more equipment but also need to take into consideration not to overload the vehicle with tools and hose? Do you need a larger pump and tank, generator, etc.? All these considerations can be met by considering the future a little before the purchase. Remember, any apparatus purchase will be costly for you and your department or company, but foresight will hopefully solve any problems before they start.
BOB VACCARO has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.